Monday, November 1, 2010

Workshop on ‘Towards Sustainable and Climate Resilient Urban Development’

One of our Lead Researchers, Dr Vishal Narain and Senior Research Fellow, Ms Sreoshi Singh, participated in a workshop titled ‘Towards sustainable and climate resilient urban deelopment’  held at the Indian Habitat Centre, organised jointly by IRADe (Integrated Research and Action for Development) and ISET(Institute for Social and Economic Transition).

The workshop showcased the efforts of ACCCRN (Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network), which works in ten cities in 4 countries aiming to make these cities resilient to the impacts of climate change. Surat, Gorakhpur and Indore are the three Indian cities that have undertaken some resilience planning under the auspices of the ACCCRN.

The workshop, itself, was structured around the study and identification of vulnerable groups of people in these cities. SLDS – or shared learning dialogues - were an important aspect of the methodology used in developing climate resilient city plans. The thrust of much of the discussions in the workshop was on mainstreaming climate resilience into City Development Plans and Master Plans. An important issue identified in the deliberations – with particular relevance for our work - is the absence of carrying capacity studies for cities, which need to be the basis of urban planning and expansion. Indeed, periruban issues arise because the carrying capacity of cities is perhaps not systematically studied or factored into the expansion plans of cities. This is a general point relevant across our study locations.

Several other issues came up in the course of the deliberations with some relevance for our work:

1)      To understand vulnerability, one needs to look at the irregular income streams of households and the factors that contribute to the irregularity  
2)      The lack of climate data and information can be an important stumbling block in research

Dr Narain's notes 
All the discussions seemed to stay confined to the sustainability and climate resilience of the cities and those who lived in them. Even when participants spoke about the poor, it was with reference to the poor who lived in the cities, rather than those at the peripheries whose land and water these cities would acquire to grow, or even to become sustainable and climate resilient.
I spoke to other researchers about our project, who found the concept interesting, relevant and topical. Notably I took this opportunity to interact with the ISET Team . I spoke to representatives of TARU, the Action Research Unit, which has an office in Gurgaon.

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